Peaceable Man Files Issue #19: Autumn and Its Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Random musings on my gypsy existence at my cabin in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania and wherever else life takes me.
I spent this past week up at my cabin in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania, where fall is in all its glory.
When I was up here at the end of September, the leaves were just starting to turn. But the recent hard frost under the harvest moon spurred the trees to get a move on and hurry their production of chlorophyl in preparation for winter. Some of the trees are already starting to drop their leaves. Everywhere I walked this week around my property, I was surrounded by color: in the trees above and on the grass beneath my feet. It was truly a 3D pageant of color.
This is the time of year when the usually modest Mother Nature puts on her Sunday best and struts her stuff. It doesn’t last long before it’s gone, so you need to get out there and see the show while it lasts.
That’s my feeling, at least. Between all the colors and the cool, crisp temperatures, this time of year I just want to be outside, soaking it all in. Every tree, like the biblical Joseph in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, wears its own amazing technicolor dreamcoat. The fiery reds of the maples. The elms and chestnut trees with their tongues of orange. The brilliant yellows of the birches and the hickories. The deep golds and rusty bronzes of the oaks.
The oaks, being the hardiest of the bunch, will be the last to drop. They will hang onto their leaves until well into November, reluctant to let go of their summer growth. But except for the oaks, in a couple more weeks the show will be over and the landscape will be etched in black-and-white for the next six months.
Isn’t it interesting that life is most strikingly beautiful at the beginning and at the end of its cycle? In the spring, we get those gorgeous blossoms and buds, but that only lasts a couple weeks before the trees put on their boring green uniforms for the spring and summer. Then, for a few weeks in the fall, life puts on a final show of brilliance before winter sets in.
It’s that way with people too. We coo over the beautiful skin of babies, but we also marvel at the way the visage of an old person, on his deathbed, will suddenly blossom with translucent beauty before the soul departs for greener territories. It gives one hope that, no matter how old we are, our most brilliant beauty lies ahead.
Beyond its beauty, fall also reminds us that everything has its season. Like the flora and fauna, we human beings are given a brief period of time to put on our own dreamcoat and produce something. What will it be? What will we leave behind as the fruit of our dreams and labor?
I believe all of us, during our time here on earth, want to leave behind something that is ours—something that is not a product of our mass-market, made-in-China culture but that is an expression of our own unique blend of God-given gifts and talents.
I know I do. It’s why I decided to leave the rank-and-file world of corporate America a year ago to pursue my long-held dream of being an author and storyteller. I was good at what I did in that corporate world and made a lot of money at it—money that allowed me to provide for my family and give them a comfortable life.
But in the thirty-some years that I worked for multi-billion-dollar corporations, I never really felt that the things I did were truly my own. My accomplishments were in service of the organizations I worked for. What I did, millions of other people also did, and probably a lot better than me. I was like one of those nameless remora fish that ride the backs of whales and sharks, feeding on those deep pools of blubber, but never quite sure if it could make it on its own.
What I am doing now, in this final season of my life, is truly mine. The books I’m writing, the articles I am publishing, even these blog posts—as minor as they are, as little money as they make me, they are uniquely mine. There’s a satisfaction in that which I did not feel when I was laboring for a big company.
As we move into the second half of October, I encourage you to get out and enjoy nature’s show while it lasts. And don’t be shy about strutting your own stuff as well. Dream big. Show your colors. It’s never too late to start, but we don’t have forever to make that start.
Make it today!